Fitment rates of safety features to increase with new European Commission plans

December 22, 2016

Analysis of fitment rates of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems by Thatcham Research has revealed that the technology is still not available on 52% of new cars offered for sale in the UK. The system is not available at all on certain model variants and is only offered as an option on many others even though it only costs around £200 and can result in savings for consumers through reduced insurance premiums. AEB will undoubtedly be increasingly offered as standard as models are replaced or undergo mid-life revisions and Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham Research, commented that: “Vehicle manufacturers could choose to publicly commit to making AEB standard by 2022 on all new cars sold in the UK.’  

Nevertheless, the European Commission is seeking to expedite this process by making the fitment of safety features such as AEB, intelligent speed regulation and lane-retention and cyclist detection technology compulsory. The report has identified 19 features that would reduce the number of road traffic accidents and also includes driver drowsiness detection, tyre pressure monitoring, seatbelt use reminders and improved pedestrian cushioning. However, the proposals have been criticised for falling short and being protracted as the vehicle type approvals run to 2030, even though the technologies are generally already available. Antonio Avenoso, executive director of the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) said: ‘These long-overdue changes are a step in the right direction for road safety in Europe. But giving the industry 14 years to implement some of the measures is incomprehensible, especially in light of the recent lack of progress in reducing deaths.’ Mr Avenoso commented further that ‘changes which will benefit pedestrians and cyclists are getting a lower priority with these plans’ and also raised concerns that the safety features will take longer to cascade through to more affordable cars, unfairly benefiting wealthier car buyers. 

These proposals are subject to review before further steps are taken but are already seen as the first regulatory development that will accelerate the transition to autonomous driving. This will naturally benefit certain suppliers, such as Mobileye, which has developed intelligent camera and sensor technology. The company works with almost all the major OEMs - including GM, Nissan, Volkswagen and BMW - with the aim of launching the first fully autonomous vehicles in 2021. In an interview with Automotive News Europe, Dr. Itay Gat, Mobileye’s Senior Vice President of Production Programs, said of demand for assistance components that : ‘Our estimate is that in the coming few years we will see a rise of something like 46 per cent per year due to the fact that regulators are saying these kinds of systems should be standard features.’

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